Last night, I watched an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Evander Holyfield and his prominence in boxing through the late 1980's and entire 1990's. The film centered around the competitive rivalry and highly anticipated delay to the fights between Holyfield and Mike Tyson.
Much like the rest of the sports conscious world, the best thing I knew Holyfield for was getting part of his ear bitten off by Tyson. I had no idea what kind of competitor and human being he was.
Holyfield had a tough upbringing in urban Atlanta. He was basically a no-one in boxing until he wasn't. Towards the end of the 80's, Holyfield began to gain a reputation as someone who could potentially knock off undisputed heavyweight champ, Mike Tyson. What was incredible to me was Holyfield was a cruiser weight and had to move up an entire weight class to fight Tyson. The fight everyone wanted to see wouldn't take place for years to come though.
Mike Tyson ran into legal troubles, so Holyfield vs. Tyson had to be delayed for years. By the time the fight was set to take place, Holyfield was considered by many to be washed up and nearly done with the sport, while Tyson was considered to be in his prime. But Holyfield shocked the world and upset Tyson handily.
What's more important than his success is how Holyfield carried himself as a person. It is so common in boxing for superstars to be egomaniacs, prone to outbursts and irrational behavior. Holyfield was the antithesis of this. He was calm, respectful, and dedicated, all while being an absolute savage in the ring. To me, Holyfield was a great example of what it takes to be a champion in the ring and a great person outside of it.